Transit Arts students and masters perform at Arts Fest on June 7. Credit: Courtesy of Transit Arts

A local program is providing opportunities for Columbus, Ohio, community members to channel their inner artist.

Transit Arts is an arts program that serves families in communities around Columbus and gives people of all backgrounds tools and instruction that enable them to express their creativity, Jackie Calderone, Transit Arts director, said. Transit Arts is this year’s official charity partner of Off the Lake Productions, a student-run, service-based theater group at Ohio State.

Calderone said the program allows people from different neighborhoods and economic divides to connect through the arts. Transit Arts offers programs for people ages 12 to 21, according to its website. 

“Anybody that comes to the program is simply an artist,” Calderone said.

Transit Arts hosts its programs at Central Community House, its parent organization. The Central Community House supplies after-school programs, as well as other services, to support families, Calderone said.

Transit Arts provides classes involving visual arts, hip hop dance, music production, writing and more, Katerina Harris, program manager of Transit Arts at the Central Community House, said.

The program’s goal is to uplift and provide opportunities for young artists to develop themselves as professional artists, Harris said.

“We wanna be sure that all young people have equal access to amazing arts experiences for them to be able to express their creativity,” Calderone said. “Sometimes people have incredible creative gifts, but don’t have the tools, so they might not have the musical instruments or the software or the high-quality arts supplies or access to the coaching of master artists.”

Seeing past participants of the program find their passions and careers is very meaningful, Calderone said.

“Most of our teaching artists, or master artists, are artists who came up through the program,” she said. “We have all these people who deeply understand what it means to be completely immersed in community.”

Harris has been involved with Transit Arts since its inception more than 13 years ago. After participating for four years, she began working as a staff member.

Calderone said her involvement began with arts programs in the Short North more than 26 years ago, but she had no experience in social work or teaching prior to Transit Arts.

Calderone said her favorite part of working with Transit Arts is seeing participants from the program in which she previously worked, the Short Stop Teen Center, enroll their children in her current program.

“Now, we are seeing the children of the kids who used to come to the Short Stop, so we have this amazing legacy of being able to watch what happened that many years ago, and so it’s been a really incredible experience,” Calderone said.

Calderone said the class is valuable for all students because it creates connections across economic divides, and it teaches them skills they otherwise might not learn.

“It’s very fulfilling — rewarding — to pass some skills to a new generation and seeing skills from a new generation, because there’s so many things that they’re interested in that I may not have known, and so there’s a transferring of knowledge and skills back and forth,” Harris said. 

Calderone said that in the future, the program would like to have a mobile unit, making it easier for program participants and organizers to reach different spots in Columbus where they might be needed by the community.

The Central Community House is located at 1150 E. Main St. More information can be found at